Friday, June 5, 2009

DVD of the Week: "Death Race 2000" (Paul Bartel, 1975)


This selection is somewhat self-explanatory – the death of an important actor or actress is always an immediate call to go back and see more of their work. In this case, you might as well start with the nasty fun of the 1975 cult film Death Race 2000. Sure its a bit dated now, but anything that ever received a zero star review from Roger Ebert is worth your time in one way or another.

Even though I prefer the more recent incarnation (which featured a voice over cameo by Carradine), Death Race 2000 features David Carradine in a highly memorable performance as the unbeatable Frankenstein. Taking place in the year 2000 (funny how things work out, eh?) the United States has been destroyed by a financial crisis and has become a fascist police state. The Transcontinental Road Race, a violent race across the country where you get points for hitting specific groups (and even more for pedestrians!), is a main source of entertainment for the blood thirsty citizens. Some crazy shit goes down between Frankenstein and his rival Machine Gun Joe (Sylvester Stallone). Cars wreck. Things explode. And the State is taken over by, well, Frankenstein. Long live Le Cinema!

Not all that sleek or smooth, Death Race 2000 serves its 70s grunge well. And although its not his more “refined” performance, Carradine is commanding as ever.

1 comment:

Jeremy Richey said...

I've always really dug this...and, you are right, Carradine is very commanding. I'm particularly fond of Roberta Collin's ferocious Matilda the Hun and, of course, seeing Sly pre-Rocky is always a treat.